(* This is a provisional translation by an external company for reference purpose only. The original text is in Japanese.)
Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs Masahiko Koumura
Date: Tuesday, January 8, 2008, 10:00 a.m.
Place: Briefing Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Visit to Tanzania by Foreign Minister Koumura
- Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV)
- Cost Sharing for Relocation of US Forces in Okinawa
- Kidnapping of a Japanese National in Iran
- Japan-US Center for Peace and Cultural Exchange
- North Korean Issues
Happy New Year. I look forward to working with you again this year.
I return from Tanzania where I met with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Bernard Kamillius Membe, President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and other officials. In my meeting with President Kikwete, I called on the President to personally participate in TICAD IV and he informed me that he had reserved that timeframe in his schedule for the meeting and promised that he would attend. Furthermore, I called on him not only to participate, but also to urge the leaders of other African nations to attend. In response he stated, "Of course I will do that. I want to make sure that as many African leaders as possible visit Japan with me."
Although I did not touch on the subject from my part, the President said, "We support Japan taking up the position of a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. We have long held this position and we will continue to support Japan in this regard. I am sure there is not a single nation amongst the 53 African nations that would oppose it." Furthermore he said, "However, naturally it should not only be Japan that becomes a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, but there should also be a nation selected from Africa." In response I stated that Japan held the same view.
Moreover, we exchanged views on the situation in the Republic of Kenya and I was able to hear many things from the Tanzanian side. I was informed that although there were three candidates for president, "They all fully understand that we are totally neutral about this matter, therefore we have been contacted by representatives of each of those factions and are discussing with them." Furthermore, the President said, "Right now we are focused not only on getting information from within Kenya, but also gathering various information on what the international community is thinking and although we can imagine various outcomes, rather than each delivering its own version of the various potential outcomes, we think it would be more important to give advice on the desired outcome that is agreed upon by the overall international community. That is why currently we are gathering information from various sources and we are listening to various discussions from the three factions in Kenya." Japan intends to fully support the efforts undertaken by President Kikwete to bring about a solution. It appears that representatives from each of the three factions have been dispatched to meet with President Kikwete. That is all that I have to say about my visit to Tanzania.
In relation to what you said about TICAD IV, at present, it seems that there are not very many countries that have announced their intention to participate in the conference. Is it your intention to make efforts now to work toward strongly eliciting participation by Heads of State?
If you want to know how many people are scheduled to attend, I would suggest you confirm that with the officials in charge of such matters. I am not aware of details but I do hope that we will have participation of at least 30 individuals at the Head of State level.
You say that you would like to have 30 Heads of State. Why 30?
It would be rather difficult to expect everyone to come. For example, the Prime Minister of Japan is unable to attend every single invited meeting.
Regarding the relocation of US forces stationed in Okinawa to Guam, at the 10 December 2007 meeting of the Committee on Audit, Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba stated that it would cost approximately 70 million yen per household. Since Japan is to bear the burden for 59% and it is going to cost 70 million yen per household, is this really something that has been agreed upon between Japan and the United States?
I am not aware of any such agreement but primarily this is a matter that is dealt with by the Ministry of Defense and since I am not fully informed on this matter, it would be to nobody's benefit for me to attempt to respond to that question. I suggest that you ask the Defense Minister directly.
Three months have passed since the kidnapping of Mr. Nakamura in Iran. I have heard that sometimes Mr. Nakamura makes phone calls home. Can you tell me about his current situation?
I am not aware of whether or not Mr. Nakamura himself has made phone calls home recently, but based on the information that the Government of Japan has been able to ascertain, Mr. Nakamura remains unharmed. Naturally from the outset, the best outcome in such a circumstance is resolution without incident as early as possible. However, if we have to allocate importance between, "as early as possible" and "without incident" then naturally it is more important that it be resolved "without incident." That is why in the past we have stated that rather than focusing excessively on an early settlement, it is more important to resolve this matter without incident. However, it is a matter of concern since this has dragged out over a long period of time.
Regarding North Korea, US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, who has had particularly close contact with North Korea for a long time has been repeating that their declaration is overdue and Japan has fundamentally supported that position. However, at the beginning of the year, the North Korean side stated, "We already made our declaration in November." Please explain why such a contradiction in terms has come out.
I do not know. However, as far as I can imagine it may have been a case of North Korea saying, "How about this?" To which perhaps they were responded, "That would be unacceptable." Or perhaps in response to, "How about this?" the response was that it is totally incorrect and incomplete and therefore, "In that case no country will be satisfied." That is why the fact is that a complete and correct declaration has yet to be submitted in good faith.
Almost two months have passed since the November time when North Korea said that it assertedly submitted a declaration according to its explanation. Do you believe that there has been any progress in the attitude displayed by the North Korean side? Are they getting any closer to making a complete and correct declaration?
As I have said in the past, if North Korea can just make a political decision regarding this issue of declaration, it can be taken care of at any time. That is why unless there is a political decision to make a complete and correct declaration I do not think that any progress will be made on this issue. What is different about this and the issue of disablement of the three facilities is that on that front, necessary work has been carried out but due to the need to give full consideration to safety they have not been able to meet the deadline. However, whether or not North Korea makes a political decision to make a complete and correct declaration is akin to something being on or off.
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